Original Teen Titans Versus Teen Titans Go!

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Original Teen Titans Versus Teen Titans Go!

Which do you prefer?

I’ll start this blog post with this…while Teen Titans is a very good show, we should not be comparing the two as comparables. It is not two different visions of the same show. Instead, it is two different versions. One for children say 8 and under in the case of Teen Titans Go, and 8 and older for Teen Titans. If you look at Teen Titans Go as a parody of the original, it becomes slightly less annoying.

I said slightly.

What’s Going On?

In 2004, an animated series based on the Teen Titans, a DC Comics team of sidekicks and young superheroes premiered on Cartoon Network. It aired for 5 seasons and was loved by its fans. Like many shows before it, Teen Titans was able to appeal to hardcore comic book fans and kids who had never heard of these characters before.  I would make sure every Thursday night at 6pm I was in front of the television so I could watch it on Toonami.

Teen Titans ended in 2006 (with a movie) and it seemed we had heard the last of Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy. Then in 2012, animated shorts starring the team called The New Teen Titans aired on Cartoon Network’s DC Nation programming block. It was clearly set in the same continuity as the Teen Titans series (with the same voice cast and miniaturized character designs).

The Outcome?

Sadly, instead of a straight continuation of the original series, what we got was a “re-imagining” of the original series in the form of Teen Titans Go! The voice cast remains the same, but there are many aspects of this new animated series which have caused frustration and outright hatred from fans.

The original Teen Titans series focused on the main cast of five characters, each presented as individuals with no double identities or “normal” lives. They essentially wore their superhero costumes all the time. One of the quirks of the original series was that no one really seemed to take notice of the five characters walking around in colorful costumes. Presenting the characters in this way allowed the writers to explore each character’s personality based on who they were.

At a first glance, each of the main characters can easily be identified with a popular stereotype: Cyborg is a smart jock, Starfire is a naive fish out of water, Raven is an emotionless Goth girl, Beast Boy is a relaxed slacker, and Robin is an overachieving control freak. What made the original Teen Titans series so engaging was that each character was given opportunities to grow and develop their personality. As we learned more about the characters back stories and their insecurities, they also became more relatable as characters. Learning why Raven keeps her emotions hidden, or seeing Cyborg react to being given an opportunity to blend in with normal people were great bits of character development.

In Teen Titans Go! each main character is seemingly defined by their stereotype. There is no depth for these characters, just opportunities for jokes. Robin is now a hyperactive, obsessive-compulsive, and impulsive nitwit who feels incompetent for not having superpowers. Their characters are given little opportunity for growth and seemingly remain static throughout the episodes. It seems like a waste to take five well-rounded characters and essentially turn them into bare-bones versions of their previous selves.

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Was it Supposed to Be Like This?

It has never been explicitly stated if Teen Titans Go! is meant to be a continuation of the previous series. There are several indicators which have been presented in the new show to suggest that there is a connection. For starters, the character designs still retain a considerable likeness to the original series. Several supporting characters from the previous series, including the Hive Five, Silkie, Aqualad, Kitten, Red X, Doctor Light, and Speedy have been included (again designed to resemble the original series).
The main voice cast and several of the supporting voice cast has returned to their previous roles as well. All indications would suggest that Teen Titans Go! is, in fact, a direct continuation of Teen Titans, simply done in a different animation style. However, particular episodes such as “Terra-ized” suggest otherwise. In this episode, Beast Boy meets a character named Terra for the first time, who was a central character to the second season of the original series. The inclusion of other characters, such as Silkie and Brother Blood who were introduced after Terra, creates confusion. Her introduction here shows that the writers of the new series are essentially taking whatever content from the original series they choose and creating a new series. If the producers of this series wished to establish a new universe without any connection to previous stories, it bears the question of why they would include so many callbacks and references to the previous series? They would be better off developing their own mythology or actually attempting to maintain the continuity from the original series.

The Plots For Each

The original Teen Titans show certainly had its funny moments.  In fact, there were entire episodes of the series such as “Mad Mod” or “Fractured” which had a very comedy focused plot. For the most part, the series tried to take itself seriously. The conflicts faced by the characters seemed real and there were plenty of serious moments, particularly during the season finales. The series knew when it was time to tell a joke and when to play up the superhero melodrama.
Teen Titans Go! on the other hand, is presented as a straight out comedy. This series focuses on the “funny business” that happens between the Teen Titans not saving the world. Episode subjects include Cyborg and Beast Boy being lazy on a Sunday and being convinced by the “Couch Spirit” to remain in their sloth. The emphasis on comedy shows a disconnect from the original series, which could mean that the producers are aiming at a younger demographic with the new series.
Admittedly, some of the setups for episodes are very funny. “The Legendary Sandwich”, “Sidekick”, “The Colours of Raven”, and “The Left Leg” are all examples of episodes which are very entertaining and engaging. However, when every episode is a laugh-fest it again shows how much the series is disconnected from its roots. Even occasions where the Titans battle super villains are played up for laughs. On one occasion, they challenge the Hive Five to a dodgeball game. There are no words to describe the disappointment.

 

So What Now?

It seems pretty clear that Cartoon Network green-lit a new Teen Titans show that was meant to follow the trends of existing popular Cartoon Network shows. Shows like Adventure Time have become incredibly popular with children and many adults outside the target demographic. These types of programs are very popular across all animated shows currently on television, so its no surprise that Teen Titans Go! was made to follow this trend. The original series had a balance between crazy adventures and more grounded stories. Teen Titans Go! is trying to be every other show for kids on television today, instead of focusing on what made Teen Titans an engaging and interesting concept in the first place.
Which one do you like more? Let me know in the comments what you think?
As always,
Keep Smiling!

 

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The FULL Comparison done by fans for Teen Titans vs. Teen Titans Go!

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